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[ta-too] /tæˈtu/
noun, plural tattoos.
the act or practice of marking the skin with indelible patterns, pictures, legends, etc., by making punctures in it and inserting pigments.
a pattern, picture, legend, etc., so made.
verb (used with object), tattooed, tattooing.
to mark (the skin) with tattoos.
to put (tattoos) on the skin.
Origin of tattoo2
1760-70; < Marquesan tatu; replacing tattow < Tahitian tatau
Related forms
tattooer, tattooist, noun
untattooed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for tattooer
Historical Examples
  • In one place I found a tattooer working on a boy; and he asked to tattoo me, but to his great disappointment, I refused.

  • But let us suppose that you, my dear sir, are one of those seventy thousand subscribers and are by profession a tattooer.

    Hints to Pilgrims Charles Stephen Brooks
  • Page 188Then the tattooer pricks the skin through the design.

    The Bontoc Igorot Albert Ernest Jenks
  • He was a little man, with a high massive head, and remarkably high square forehead, on which the tattooer had exhausted his art.

    Old New Zealand Earl of Pembroke.
  • The sharpened albatross bone used by the Maori tattooer, had five times scored his countenance.

  • This poet shows a soul scarred by the cruel whips of injustice; this man a back scarred by the tattooer's needles.

  • When the tattooer finished his work he turned to his friend, and said: “Now you tattoo me beautifully, too.”

    The Bontoc Igorot Albert Ernest Jenks
  • The Korathy is the tattooer of the Indian village, who offers her services for a small fee.

    Tales of Ind T. Ramakrishna
British Dictionary definitions for tattooer


noun (pl) -toos
(formerly) a signal by drum or bugle ordering the military to return to their quarters
a military display or pageant, usually at night
any similar beating on a drum, etc
Word Origin
C17: from Dutch taptoe, from the command tap toe! turn off the taps! from tap tap of a barrel + toe to shut


verb -toos, -tooing, -tooed
to make (pictures or designs) on (the skin) by pricking and staining with indelible colours
noun (pl) -toos
a design made by this process
the practice of tattooing
Derived Forms
tattooer, tattooist, noun
Word Origin
C18: from Tahitian tatau
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tattooer



"signal," 1680s, "signal calling soldiers or sailors to quarters at night," earlier tap-to (1644, in order of Col. Hutchinson to garrison of Nottingham), from Dutch taptoe, from tap "faucet of a cask" (see tap (n.1)) + toe "shut." So called because police used to visit taverns in the evening to shut off the taps of casks. Transferred sense of "drumbeat" is recorded from 1755. Hence, Devil's tattoo "action of idly drumming fingers in irritation or impatience" (1803).

"pigment design in skin," 1769 (noun and verb, both first attested in writing of Capt. Cook), from a Polynesian noun (e.g. Tahitian and Samoan tatau, Marquesan tatu "puncture, mark made on skin").


"mark the skin with pigment," 1769; see tattoo (n.2). Related: Tattooed; tattooing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tattooer in Medicine

tattoo tat·too (tā-tōō')
n. pl. tat·toos
A permanent mark or design made on the skin by a process of pricking and ingraining an indelible pigment or by raising scars. v. tat·tooed, tat·too·ing, tat·toos

  1. To mark the skin with a tattoo.

  2. To form a tattoo on the skin.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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